• SkillCat Team

The Best Guide to Trimming Pipes & Tubes

Updated: Jun 23

Piping: Chapter 2


Trimming Pipe


In this module, we will learn about trimming tools, deburring tools, and cleaning methods. We will also learn how to use these tools safely. Skip to quiz!


Trimming Tools


Recall that pipe length varies as per the application. The pipe length for your home refrigerator and air conditioner is different. So, you have to cut these pipes into different lengths as per the requirement.


A trimming tool is used to cut the pipes and tubes. Recall that the refrigerant lines are made of metal tubing and the ducting is made of plastic. The tool used to cut the metal pipe and plastic pipe is different.


The tool used to cut metal tubing and metal piping is called a tubing cutter. The tool used for plastic piping is called plastic or PVC piping cutter. In this topic, we will learn about each of them.


A tube cutter is a tool that allows the user to cut through a metal pipe. The trimming tool used to cut metal tubing and metal piping is the same. They only differ in size.


Recall that metal tubing used in refrigerant line is of small size. The tubing cutter used for small pipe is of a smaller size. Recall that metal piping used in construction is of bigger size. They require large size tubing cutters.


Tubing cutter cuts in a circular motion. Let us see how to use a tubing cutter to cut tubes.


As we rotate the tube cutter around the pipe in a 360°circle, the cutting wheel cuts through the pipe. With each rotation, the wheel penetrates through metal.


A plastic piping cutter or PVC cutter allows you to cut through plastic piping and tubing. You might have used scissors to cut the paper. The piping cutter uses the same principle. Let us look at how to use a plastic pipe cutter.


As we squeeze the handle of the PVC piping cutter, the blade slowly advances just like the scissors. We need to continue squeezing until the blade cuts through the pipe.



Deburring Tools


A burr is a rough area formed on a piece of metal when we cut it. Think about when we tear a paper. There is a change in appearance of the paper at the teared end. Notice that paper end is not smooth. This rough portion is called a burr.


Recall that pipe length is cut and then joined to other pipes to form a joint. There might be a burr left after cutting the pipe. This burr may interfere with the fitting of two parts.


The process of removing burrs is called deburring. The tool used to remove the burr is called deburring tool. Let us now look at how to use the deburring tool to remove burrs.


We need to follow the following steps while using a deburring tool:

Step 1: Pick up the deburring tool in the dominant hand and hold it firmly by the handle.

Step 2: Hold the pipe firmly in the other hand.

Step 3: Place the deburring tool against the edge.

Step 4: Apply a small amount of pressure on the edge and rotate the blade around the edge clockwise.


Rotating the tool will help the burrs go downwards. They will eventually fall, and you don't have to manually remove them.


We should check the edges to ensure all burrs have been removed. If burrs are present, rotate the deburring tool again until the edges are smooth.




Tool Safety


If we don't use the tool safely, we may end up harming ourselves. We need to follow general precautions to ensure our safety.

Gloves can save your hands from getting cut due to sharp edges and blades. Also, while cutting through the pipe, metal particles and dust particles might enter into your eyes. Wearing a safety goggle can save your eyes from these particles.


If a tool or pipe slips out of your hand, it may fall on your feet. Wearing safety shoes ensures it won't harm your legs.


Apart from this general safety, you should also make sure to handle the tools safely. For example, always position the cutting blade away from the body. If the cutting blade slips from your hand while working, it will fall away from you and not towards you.


Cleaning Method


After cutting the pipe, we make use of pipe connectors to connect these pipes. To connect the pipe using connectors, it is important to ensure that the pipe is clean and ready to fit.

Recall that metal used for pipe is highly reactive. It reacts with the oxygen present in the atmosphere. When a metal reacts with oxygen, oxides are formed on the metal surface. The rust formed on iron is an oxide.


Due to the presence of oxide layer and dust particles on the pipe, we won't be able to fit the pipe easily. These particles need to be removed by cleaning before connecting the pipes.


We make use of sandpaper to clean the pipe. Sandpaper is coated with a single layer of abrasive particles. Abrasives are substances used to smoothen any material by extensive rubbing.


The sandpaper is rubbed against the pipe surface. When you rub it against a metal surface, the abrasives remove dust particles.


The tool used to cut metal tubing and metal piping is called a tubing cutter. The tool used to cut plastic piping is called plastic or pvc piping cutter.


The process of removing burrs is called deburring. Sandpaper is coated with a single layer of abrasive particles. It is used to remove rust.





Question #1: What type of cutter cuts similar to scissors?

  1. Tubing cutter

  2. Plastic piping cutter

  3. Both of them

  4. None of the above

Scroll down for the answer...












Answer: Plastic piping cutter

A plastic piping cutter cuts plastic pipe like scissors.

A tubing cutter is cut by the circular motion of the cutter around the metal pipe.


Question #2: What is a burr?

  1. Smooth surface on the pipe

  2. Rough surface on the pipe

  3. Rust on the pipe

  4. None of the above

Scroll down for the answer...












Answer: Rough surface on the pipe

A burr is a rough area on a piece of metal pipe. It generally occurs when the metal is cut.


Question #3: What happens when you clean the pipe with sandpaper?

  1. Metal becomes soft

  2. Finishing of the pipe improves

  3. Oxides are formed

  4. None of the above

Scroll down for the answer...













Answer: Finishing of the pipe improves

Cleaning the pipe with sandpaper improves the surface finish of the pipe.

It removes the oxide layer, dust particles, or paints to clean the pipe.


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